Cooperative research and development efforts with the military, universities and the biotech industry can potentially lead to advancements in the treatment of severe wounds. Biotech companies with recent developments, partnerships and advancements in focus are Amarantus Bioscience Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: AMBS), Array BioPharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRY), Avanex Life Sciences Corp. (OTCQX: AVXLD), Juno Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: JUNO), and Progenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: PGNX)
According to a Military Times article published on October 11, 2015 entitled “Bio-Engineering Skin to Treat Severe Burns”, military researchers are putting the final touches on a study of a “skin substitute” grown from a patient’s own cells to treat complex burns and soft tissue injuries.
The new research study underway at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio holds promise for treating burn patients, including those with severe, life-threatening wounds. The treatment, called “engineered skin substitute,” or ESS, combines tissue cultivated from a patient’s skin along with collagen-producing cells to replace the two top components of skin, the epidermis and dermis. Using the patient’s cells avoids the need for foreign substitutes and lowers the chances of infection, which in turn avoids the need for immunosuppressants and reduces the number of surgeries required.
ESS is being developed by California-based biotechnology firm Amarantus BioScience (OTCQX: AMBS) and researchers from USAISR and Rutgers University.
Skin autografts – using an individual’s own cells or skin to replace damaged tissue – have been around for years, but the technology for rapidly growing replacement skin to use in large-scale burn replacement has lagged. Moreover, many current products replace either one layer of skin or the other, but not the top two layers together. A comprehensive substitute has long been the “Holy Grail of burn surgery,” said Army Col. Booker King, director of the USAISR’s Burn Center. “To be able to treat a patient who has burn injuries, you have to remove the deeply burned tissue [and cover it]. Skin is complex … a burn will not heal on its own. You have to have grafting,” King said.